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What Do Women With Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Understand About the Condition?
  1. Lesley Stafford, MA (Psych), MPsych (Clin), PhD*,, and
  2. Fiona Judd, MBBS, DPM, FRANZCP, MD*,
  1. * Centre for Women's Mental Health, Royal Women's Hospital; and Departments of
  2. Psychology and
  3. Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Lesley Stafford, MA (Psych), MPsych (Clin), PhD, Centre for Women's Mental Health, Royal Women's Hospital, Locked Bag 300, Parkville, 3052 Victoria, Australia. E-mail: Lesley.stafford{at}


Introduction: Little is known about patients' understanding of the causes, treatments, and implications of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). Clinical observation suggests that such health literacy is limited. We report on the perceptions of causes and treatment of GTD and its impact on fertility and reproductive outcomes.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of 176 Australian women previously diagnosed with GTD (no longer receiving follow-up/treatment) recruited from a state-wide registry. Participants comprised 149 (85%) women with GTD who did not require chemotherapy and 27 (15%) women who required chemotherapy for malignancy or persistent molar disease. Data were collected from medical records and via self-report questionnaire.

Results: Participants were 94 women (53%) with partial mole, 75 (43%) with complete mole, 4 (2%) with choriocarcinoma, and 3 (2%) with hydatidiform mole not otherwise specified. Mean (SD) age at diagnosis and time since diagnosis were 32.1 (6.3) and 4.7 (3.3) years, respectively. Chance/bad luck was the most endorsed cause (n = 146, 83%); 23 (13%) thought GTD was hereditary and 10 (6%) identified a chromosomal etiology. Between 24% and 32% were unsure of the role of alcohol/drugs, venereal diseases, smoking, pollution, contraceptives, and lowered immunity. Surgical/medical procedure (n = 127, 72%) and healthy diet (n = 53, 30%) were the most endorsed treatments. Between 18% and 23% were unsure of the treatment effectiveness of diet, vitamins, exercise, complementary therapy, and contraception. All women treated with chemotherapy understood the rationale thereof; 23 (85%) perceived chemotherapy to be successful, and 19 (70%) could name the agent. Few women perceived a negative impact on their fertility (n = 28, 16%); 52 (30%) were reluctant to conceive again and 100 (57%) questioned their ability to have healthy children. After diagnosis, 111 (63%) had at least 1 live birth.

Conclusions: Notwithstanding limitations, this study is the largest of its type to date. These descriptive data enhance our understanding of patients' experience on GTD, highlight the scope of GTD health literacy, and may be useful for clinicians to adjust the content of their patient education.

  • Gestational trophoblastic disease
  • Health literacy
  • Fertility

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